Your business is more than just a business — to gain traction with employees and customers, you must do more than sell a great product. To be successful with your audience today, it’s important to have a company vision that involves bettering society. This concept is called corporate social responsibility, and when it’s executed properly and fully supported by your company’s marketing team, it can make a huge difference in your company’s brand.
What is Corporate Social Responsibility?
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives involve companies making a concerted effort to enhance rather than degrade society.
These efforts can be focused on anything from helping the environment to participating in community outreach. Partnering with nonprofits, encouraging employee volunteer PTO days, fair treatment of employees and working toward sustainable practices and products are all examples of CSR practices.
The definition of CSR varies from organization to organization, depending on the focus (Harvard Business School), but the bottom line is that these practices not only benefit society but can also make your business more profitable and enticing to future employees. According to a survey from Better Business Journey, 88 percent of customers say they’re more likely to buy from a company that supports and engages in activities that improve society (Borgen Project).
Chances are, you’re already practicing corporate social responsibility in your organization. But are you talking about it? Does your audience know about your efforts? To engage your customers, you need to ensure your marketing team is effectively promoting your CSR mission. This can be easier said than done, so we worked out a few ways your marketing team can support your company’s corporate social responsibility initiatives.
1. Align your HR and Marketing Teams on Your CSR Goals
Your marketing team should partner up with your human resources department to take employer branding to the next level using CSR. Many companies are choosing to incorporate diversity, equity and inclusion efforts into their corporate social responsibility work. Marketing and human resources can work together to share some of the great work in advancing DEI your company is doing and celebrate that through social media, blog posts, short videos or other creative content.
Your human resources department will also have input on spotlighting employee work, highlighting any open positions within your company and other important company updates. Employee appreciation and wellness can be an important part of corporate social responsibility — it shows you care about your people and your community and are working to be a more inclusive workplace.
Your employees should be your biggest advocates. Giving credit to employees, sharing employee-generated content and showing off cool company events will make your workplace look more desirable to outsiders and can help with employee retention and recruiting. Give your brand a boost by sharing your efforts at creating a great workplace.
2. Use Your CSR Initiatives to Find Your Brand’s Voice
Working toward bettering something outside of your company can help you stand out from other brands in your market sector. You can segment yourself, much as TOMS did with their grassroots efforts or Patagonia with their sustainability efforts. Speaking out about what you’re doing to give back can give your brand a more recognizable persona. You can create a feeling of community and trust with your audience and connect with them on what they’re passionate about.
Marketing with empathy in your brand voice can also help you connect with your audience and position you as a more trusted, compassionate brand.
In an interview we conducted earlier this year with Sarah Panus of Kindred Speak on the importance of brand empathy, she said, “If it’s something your audience is impacted by, cares about and your research shows they want to talk about/or are dealing with [it], your job on the brand-side is to understand their thoughts and think of ways to connect with them on it.”
Think of the consumer’s needs first before crafting your message. Sometimes it’s hard to listen to what your audience is saying through the noise of the internet, but it’s important to hear their needs and talk about what they care about. A little empathy can go a long way in connecting with your consumer base and setting your brand apart in the market. You’ve already drawn in the customer with their interest in your social practices, so make sure to keep them engaged with connective and compassionate language.
3. Show Off Your Key Decision Makers as Thought Leaders
A great way to demonstrate your commitment to a corporate social responsibility strategy is to get your business leaders involved in the marketing process. Have your CEO or other key decision makers write bylined articles or blog posts, lead webinars or give quotes about your corporate social responsibility initiative that you can post on social channels and on your website.
Getting your business leaders involved allows you to demonstrate your company’s knowledge on whatever initiative you’re working toward and positions your company as a thought leader. For example, if you’re working on making your business model more sustainable, you can give updates on your progress and how other companies could implement your solutions, growing your brand’s reputation.
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Involving your leaders in marketing and public relations also depicts support for your initiative from the top down, emphasizing your dedication and motivation to seeing this effort through to the end.
4. Use Your Channels to Show Off Your Brand and Give Updates on CSR Work
Utilize your social channels to talk about your CSR work and interact with your audience. Social media is often the first glimpse that future clients or employees have of your company, so it’s important to make sure you represent your company well on those outlets.
Posting updates about your corporate social responsibility efforts, including statements from the CEO and videos about why this social issue is important to your company, will keep your audience in the know. Your marketing team can use social media to highlight the cool things your company is doing for your CSR efforts to make it clear that it’s a constant priority. Get creative but make these posts as authentic as possible with a clear focus on social responsibility. This will grow your brand awareness and continue that community feeling.
You should also use your website as a place for consumers and employees to learn more about your CSR work. Share your efforts on a landing page where you can outline your work separate from the rest of your company pages. Dedicating a space for corporate social responsibility reiterates your dedication to and passion for society.
Marketing is Key to Promoting Your CSR Work
Marketing plays a huge role in promoting and emphasizing the great work that your company is doing. Self-promotion is crucial to ensuring your audience has a clear sense of what your corporate social responsibility initiative looks like and how your company is taking it on. By coordinating your marketing efforts with your CSR work, you can successfully bring positive attention to your company and share the importance of the cause you’re working toward.
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